Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Tourist Tuesday: Visiting The White House

So, I've found myself blogging a lot lately about our house and our cats. Sure, they are interesting, and I'm sure you all loooove reading about them, but I bet you are wondering what it's like to live in our nation's capitol? You know, because technically we live less than 5 miles from President Obama.... that's probably more interesting than our pathetic cat, right?

So, I figured I would dedicate every Tuesday and (or) Wednesday to giving you a glimpse of life in DC in the form of Tourist Tuesdays and Washington Wednesdays. This way, you get a little more than the inside of our house, which could be in Anywhere, USA, and more about our Washington life. Sound good?

So, for my first Tourist Tuesday post I want to talk to you about some, well you know, something tourist-y: The White House.

White House
Courtesy of Seansie, Flickr
When people come visit DC, one place that I'm sure is on their list of places to see is the White House. Everyone wants to take that typical picture of it to say, "I've been there!" But what people don't realize is that nothing can be less glamorous than showing up at the White House only to see a gazillion other tourists lining the fence, cramming around to get their camera between the iron bars for the photo op. It's even less glamorous when there are protests surrounding the fence as well. And, as my cousin aptly stated when he visited us for the first time, the White House looks smaller than you'd think. So, you've spent your time winding around the streets of DC only to get a photo of the place. The same photo you can snag from any quick google search and Flickr (see above). I get it, it's about the experience of seeing the White House. But, instead of just seeing it, why don't you try go inside? Now, THAT'S an experience! (And, like much of DC stuff, it's FREE!)

The first time my parents were able to visit us, that's just what we did, we got a tour of the White House. And let me tell you, it's been one of the most memorable "tourist-y" things I've done in the 3 years we've lived out here!(And trust me, that's saying a lot. Not that I don't love the Mall and the Smithsonians, but they get bor-ring after the tenth or so time around!)

In order to go inside the White House, here's what you have to do:
  1. Contact your Congressman(woman)'s office at least 21 days in advance. This can be any Senator or Representative, just pick one. Most members of Congress have information about visiting DC on their webpages. For instance, Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill has a web-form you can complete if you are interested in taking a tour of the White House.
  2. From there, their office will contact you back most likely requesting more information from you, such as social security numbers of the visitors (background check, duh!), and giving you more information about the process.
  3. Lastly, if there are tour availabilities during your visit, you will get an email from your Congressional office again with the tour date, time, and additional information.
  4. Then, you just need to make sure you get your butt to the White House Visitor's gate, present your government-issued ID (drivers license or passport), and go on in! (btw - no purses allowed, sorry!)
  5. (More information about the process can be found at
One thing to remember is that you will not get to pick the day or the time of your tour. And, you aren't necessarily guaranteed a tour during your visit, it is on a first-come-first-serve basis, and also depends on what is going on in the White House that day. But, it doesn't hurt to try, right?

If you are able to get a tour, I will guarantee that it'll be something worth talking about! It's pretty awesome to see White House staffers walking around with "White House logo" coffee cups, and to step into all of the iconic rooms with a serious collection of historic furniture and art (swoon). Plus, if you are lucky, like my dad, you'll run into a friendly Secret Service German Shepherd.... (read: stay away from them!) You aren't guaranteed to see any particular rooms since it depends on the White House (ie, President's) schedule for the day, but heck, just walking into the White House is pretty darn awesome!

And, while they don't let you take photos inside the house, you can take them as you are leaving. Here is a quick photo my mom took of my dad and I right outside the North Portico.

Don't we look pretty darn excited?!

I bet when you started reading this you thought you would get a "White House history" from me, no? Well, if you do want a little White House history I would suggest checking out Wikipedia (come on, it's got the basics) and

Also, let me know, as tourists, what you would like to see me write about in my Tourist Tuesdays. Any particular tourist-y spots? How to's? Anyone want some histories?!?


    1. I love this idea!

      It would be cool to do some off the beaten path kind of tourist stuff.... things we wouldn't know about if we didn't have an 'insider' in DC. Would love more Alexandria stuff too.... such a cute little area!

    2. Don't worry, Danielle, I'll be posting less tourist-y stuff on my Washington Wednesdays. Wait until next week....


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